On February 23, Beaconfire RED staffers locked themselves away for 12 hours and hacked our way through three client challenges for the second straight year. Once again, it was a fulfilling and exhausting day and we’re incredibly proud of the results.

Several months ago we asked clients to submit challenges for our staff to tackle and they blew us away. We received more than 40 submissions that included marketing campaigns, technology problems, design challenges and a chat bot (spoiler alert, we loved working on that one). It was an incredibly difficult decision, but ultimately the hackathon participants settled on three projects.

The first project was for the Basser Center for BRCA (Penn Medicine) who initially were looking for help with their FAQ section. After exploring the challenge with the client, we quickly realized the problem to tackle was broader: how can we position basser.org to provide immediate guidance for those newly dealing with BRCA mutations or BRCA-related cancers?

The second project was for the League of Women Voters and focused on the upcoming mid-term elections. LWV wanted help crafting a digital marketing campaign for finding and motivating low-propensity voters—our fellow citizens who, for a variety of reasons, are least likely to exercise the power of their vote.

The final project was for Habitat for Humanity and yes, it involved chat bots. Habitat for Humanity receives up to 700 calls a day at their call centers and are always looking for new ways to engage their users and answer their questions. This project was an interesting challenge for us, since unlike other hackathon projects it required us to rapidly learn about technologies and tactics we're not already experts in using.

The entire team spent the morning discussing and brainstorming ideas for all three projects and by lunch time three concepts and teams had organically formed. The teams then worked through the day on their various projects. Our Creative Director Eve Simon summed up the experience by saying

“I loved how diverse the teams were. It was cool to see marketing people with great ideas collaborating with developers, designers and UX’ers. It really brought depth and insight to the projects. Great (albeit exhausting!) experience.”

The teams would check-in regularly to update everyone on their progress and swap staff resources. Designers and developers were jumping back and forth, pitching in where necessary to keep the teams moving forward. That night, after 12 hours, we reconvened for pizza and each team presented their work.

In the end, we created:

  1. A UX strategy for new visitors of Basser.org. This included wireframes and design comps for overlays, a revised FAQ section, a recently diagnosed landing page and an assessment wizard.
  1. A comprehensive digital ad strategy for engaging low-propensity voters for the League of Women Voters. This included 2 design concepts with mood boards and sample ads as well as recommended tactics, channels and media spends.
  1. A functional chat bot prototype and lots of learnings about what it takes to imagine, build and train a chat bot to answer call center questions to share with Habitat for Humanity.

The hackathon was a great experience and we’re proud to have helped three amazing clients with very worthwhile challenges. Thanks to all the organizations who submitted projects for us to consider and we look forward to another hackathon in 2019!


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